Some things are better left untouched. Imagine a delicious slice of Italian bread sitting on top of a beautiful china plate. The aroma makes your mouth water. It’s perfect.
Then, the person next to you swoops in and dumps chili pepper and strawberry jelly on it. “It’s good,” he promises.
Italian bread + chili pepper + strawberry jelly? (Don’t worry, I feel sick, too)
Classics are not meant to be tampered with. Movies like West Side Story and Catch Me If You Can should not have sequels (including musical versions). But these aren’t the worst I’ve seen.
The worst was a recent play I learned about: Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead. Yep, you guessed it: an unauthorized parody of everyone’s favorite childhood comic series, Peanuts by Charles Schultz.
It’s not dark humor, it’s close to literary blasphemy.
To make the plot of the parody brief, all the Peanuts characters are now juvenile delinquents in high school. Snoopy has been killed because he contracted rabies and attacked Woodstock. Linus, the cute philosophical kid with the blanket, has become a drug addict. Lucy becomes a pyromaniac who sets another girl’s hair on fire. Schroeder –my most loved character– is abused and commits suicide in the end.
This parody was unauthorized, so the author “cleverly” disguises each character’s name (Charlie Brown as “CB,” Linus as “Van”) lest he be sued for copyright infringement issues. But it’s clear who each character references to.
Yes, dark topics addressed in this play should be brought to national attention. But using classics as a source is not witty. It’s twisted. And it ruined our cherished childhood memories of the Peanuts gang.
So, excuse me Bert V. Royal, but next time could you create your own characters for your dark and serious plays? (At least he did that for his movie Easy A)